Sschool Heads Query
Archbishop Peter Loy Chong requests for faithbased teachers after principals of two Catholic schools replaced Govt’s position - principals’ appointments done on merit in the best interest of students
The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Fiji has asked the Ministry of Education to reconsider having members of the church to head its schools. Archbishop Peter Loy Chong, in a letter to Minister of Education Rosy Akbar dated January 11, also requests that faith be an element of the Open Merit Recruitment Selection System (OMRSS).
He also met Alison Burchell, the Permanent Secretary
This is after principals of two Catholic schools – Joseph Sabu of Xavier College in Ba and Francis Abraham of Saint Thomas High School in Lautoka – were replaced by non-Catholics recently. Ms Akbar could not be reached to comment, but the Government position is that appointments are made on merit in the best interest of the students. If churches want to choose their principals then they have to pay their salaries. Archbishop Chong’s views were posted on the church’s Facebook page. He declined to elaborate when contacted yesterday.
Mr Sabu also refused to comment. Mr Abraham could not be reached. Archbishop Loy Chong’s views were supported by the President of the Methodist Church in Fiji, Reverend Epineri Vakadewavosa. Reverend Vakadewavosa said the principles and teachings of the church maintained that members of the faith must head their educational institutions because it was the only way to preserve and maintain the church’s teachings and ideologies.
The letter to Ms Akbar says: “This week the Ministry of Education appointed two non-Catholic acting principals to Xavier College and St Thomas High School. Brothers Francis and Sabu are doing a fine job in these schools. We humbly request that they remain principals.
“With all due respect to your office, I request that Hon. Minister considers faith as a component of the OMRSS. The faith-based school representative believe that having a school head that belongs to our faith will enhance the school.”
The letter also stated that the faith-based schools had raised this issue with Ms Burchell.
“She assured us that the Ministry of Education will ensure close consultation with school managers and that the unique culture of faith-based schools will be supported,” the letter says. Attempts to get a comment from Ms Burchell failed.
Fiji Muslim League national president, Hafizud Dean Khan, said that all faith-based schools would want their schools to be led by their own, however, it would be a difficult situation with the current system in place.
“To get the best education, you have to get the best teachers to meet that need and requirements so you have to settle for the best teachers. Sometimes they may not be of your faith but you have to learn to manage this very carefully as far as your faith is maintained and you’ve reached your own religious and teaching goals,” he said. “At the end of the day the main important goal is to make sure our kids get the best education.” He added that at times their own people might not have the requirement or met the qualification needed.
Head of the Catholic Church in Fiji, Archbishop Peter Loy Chong
President of the Methodist Church in Fiji, Reverend Epineri Vakadewavosa.